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Saugerties teacher under fire for racist writing assignment

May 12, 2021 5:46 am

Diane Pineiro-Zucker is reporting for the Daily Freeman a member of the Saugerties Town Board, two candidates for town board, and some parents are demanding the firing of a tenured Saugerties High School English teacher for assigning a writing exercise based on a racist hypothesis, stating that George Floyd was not killed because a former Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes. Derek Chauvin, was convicted of murder on April 20. In the assignment, as posted on Facebook, teacher Hope Antonelli, assigned her ninth grade English class the assignment based on the premise that “George Floyd did not die because Chauvin’s knee was on his neck. He died from a heart attack and drug overdose.” The second question was based on the idea that a black member of the jury that convicted Chauvin was racially biased and that the juror had failed to disclose his bias during jury selection. Antonelli then asked if Chauvin should be retried. According to letter from Superintendent Kirk Reinhardt to parents on May 11, Antonelli later revised the writing exercise. However, the superintendent did not release a copy of the revised assignment. Reinhardt said the assignment “was interpreted by at least one student to include biased content.” In response to a request for comment, Antonelli referred a reporter to Daniel Erceg, the district’s director of human resources, who passed the questions to Reinhardt. Town Board member John Schoonmaker and candidates Nina Schmidbaur and Tim Scott denounced the assignment and called for Antonelli to be fired. School Board President Robert Thomann and board member Krista Barranger did not comment. The issue is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the full board on May 18. Read the full story in the Daily Freeman.